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Imperial Japan

The Dai Nippon Teikoku (Great Japanese Empire) was a parliamentary constitutional monarchy that was only destroyed with her defeat in World War II. Industrialization and militarization ultimately paved the way for Japan becoming a world power. After several large-scale military successes during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Imperial Japan gained notoriety for its war crimes against the peoples of the countries it conquered as well as its crimes against prisoners of war.

As Japan industrialized, its trends towards militarization and ultimately nationalism deeply influenced the events that led to the Second World War. New ideas spread that combined ancient practices, for example the Bushido code, with new ideologies like fascism and even emperor worship. In the early 1930s the nation was on a course that would lead them into the Second World War. Totalitarianism and military expansionism were to become a basic part of life and going to war for the emperor was enforced. Devotion to the emperor combined with a war footing and strong nationalist sentiments paved the road to war and conquest.

The collection featured in the museum focuses on objects and stories that relate to Japanese military expansionism, most notably the period of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific War. With objects ranging from the Meiji Restoration era to the end of the Second World War, our holdings provide a glimpse of the reality of Japan under a regime that fused ancient beliefs with modern ideas.


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